IAEA Board of Governors Meeting – Agenda Item 5(c) –
Nuclear Verification – NPT Safeguards Agreement (Islamic Republic of Iran)
U.S. Statement as Delivered by Ambassador Laura S.H. Holgate
Vienna, Austria, November 17, 2022
Thank you, Chair.
The United States expresses our sincere appreciation for the continued professional and impartial efforts of the Agency to pursue the full verification assurance that Iran’s NPT-required safeguards agreement is meant to enable. We commend the Director General for his ongoing, extensive efforts to engage Iran on the reported outstanding issues regarding the presence of anthropogenic uranium particles identified at three undeclared locations in Iran – Turquzabad, Varamin, and Marivan.
We are seriously concerned by the Director General’s report that these critical safeguards issues remain unresolved. This matter should seriously concern all Board Members, as Iran continues to brazenly disregard the Director General’s repeated requests – for years now – for Iran to provide the substantive cooperation necessary to clarify and resolve these outstanding issues. In light of this lack of cooperation, and as described in the previous introduction of this resolution, the United States is joining France, Germany, and the United Kingdom in sponsoring a resolution today that would decide that specific actions required to clarify and resolve these matters are “essential and urgent,” pursuant to Article 18 of Iran’s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement. We welcome the strong support many Board members have already indicated for the resolution, which aims to uphold the Board’s responsibility to support the Director General and his team. We urge all
Board members to join us in this effort to make clear that Iran must now provide the necessary cooperation, no more empty promises.
The proposed resolution comes after the Agency’s engagement with Iran on these issues has been ongoing for nearly four years. Unfortunately, over the course of that time, more questions have been raised than answered. Because of Iran’s failure to cooperate, the Director General has repeatedly reported that he cannot confirm the correctness or completeness of Iran’s declarations and is not able to provide assurance that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful. All Board members should find these conclusions deeply troubling.
In June of this year, the Board overwhelmingly supported the adoption of a resolution expressing profound concern that these safeguards issues remain outstanding due to insufficient substantive cooperation by Iran. In September, more than 50 Member States joined a Joint Statement voicing their concern with Iran’s lack of cooperation and calling on Iran to act on an urgent basis to fulfill its legal obligations.
And yet now, despite the Agency providing Iran with numerous opportunities, the Director General once again reports that the safeguards issues remain outstanding, and that there has been no progress in clarifying and resolving them. Instead of providing credible clarifications, or any substantive cooperation at all, Iran at the last minute offered the Agency additional meetings but provided no new substance or credible explanations. Let me be clear: this pattern of suggesting possible future cooperation, but not delivering what the Agency requires, is longstanding, transparent, and alarming. The Board should find it grossly unacceptable following the clear and repeated calls it has made on Iran to uphold its obligations and cooperate substantively without delay.
The Director General has made clear the simple path to resolving these issues. Iran must provide credible explanations for the presence of the nuclear material particles at undeclared locations, inform the Agency of the location of the detected nuclear material and/or contaminated equipment, and provide the information and access the Agency requires to verify these explanations. We have been clear that once the Director General reports that the issues are clarified and resolved, and therefore no longer outstanding, the Board could then close its consideration of this matter. We would very much welcome such an outcome, which would be a success for Iran and for the nonproliferation regime. It is by far our preferred path forward.
The power to resolve these issues is in Iran’s hands, and we once again urge Iran to do so. There are no shortcuts here: political or otherwise. These issues – involving evidence of nuclear material at undeclared locations – are at the very heart of the safeguards regime. Iran must know that if it fails to provide the cooperation necessary to resolve these matters, the Board will have to be prepared to take further action, including under Article XII.C of the Agency’s Statute, if necessary. Contrary to Iran’s attempts to threaten and intimidate the Board by mischaracterizing our intent in pursuing this resolution, the United States would like to avoid such further action. If Iran finally provides the necessary cooperation the Director General seeks, consideration of such measures will not be necessary. The choice is Iran’s. But ignoring obligations and undercutting the international safeguards regime and its role in providing critical verification assurances is not an option.
We greatly appreciate the Agency’s ongoing efforts with Iran and request the Director General continue his reporting on these critical matters until they are resolved. With these comments, the United States takes note of the Director General’s report on the NPT Safeguards Agreement with Iran contained in document GOV/2022/63 and requests that it be made public, consistent with longstanding practice.
Thank you, Chair.